The Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) District  was created in response to community concerns about water quality, flooding, and loss of aquatic habitat in the Birch Bay Watershed. BBWARM’s stormwater program focuses on protecting water quality and reducing stormwater impacts. Explore our website to learn more about what BBWARM is doing and how you can get involved. 


BBWARM Advisory Committee Meeting

The next meeting of the BBWARM Advisory Committee will be held on January 17th at 6pm at the Northwest Annex Portable Building (5280 Northwest Drive, Bellingham, WA 98226). The general public is invited to join us, and a public comment period will be held at the beginning of the meeting. This will be a hybrid meeting with in-person and remote options.

You can view the 2024 meeting schedule, documents, and Zoom link on the BBWARM Advisory Committee website.  


The BBWARM District service charge has remained unchanged since its inception in 2009. The rates are based on the density of impervious surface area on a property, such as pavement, rooftops, driveways, and parking areas. The average single-family home in Birch Bay has 4,000 square feet of impervious surface and pays $75 annually. Due to the long list of capital improvement projects to be built in Birch Bay and the rising construction costs, it has become clear that a rate study (and likely service charge increase) is warranted. 

The BBWARM advisory committee and county staff are initiating a rate study and analysis that will help determine the total amount of rate revenue required to continue to meet BBWARM’s financial obligations, including capital, operating, and policy-driven commitments. The public will be able to provide feedback and comments at public meetings in January and April of 2024. Contact Whatcom County Public Works Stormwater staff with questions at 360-778-6230 or


BBWARM has recently received multiple inquiries about Terrell Creek. The sight and smell of the water may seem like cause for concern; however, the conditions are a natural seasonal occurrence caused by lack of rain in the late summer/early fall. Bacterial and algal growth occur when water levels are low, slow moving, warm and nutrient-rich. There is also a buildup of decaying organic matter like seaweed in Birch Bay and lower Terrell Creek every summer. These natural conditions generate strong sulfur smells, surface films, and unusual colors in the creek. The extent and severity of the smell and murkiness varies annually, and this year has been particularly noticeable. The issues will resolve and the creek will return to its normal look and smell once the fall rains start flushing out the waterways. 

We have been responding to citizen reports of unusual sheens, smells, and colors in Terrell Creek over the past few months. Staff have not found any conditions to date that are cause for concern; however, it’s still a good idea to keep kids and pets out of the water until it’s no longer stagnant and stinky.

The conditions described above do not need to be reported; however, there are a few observations that are important to report:

Here are some additional resources and tips:


BBWARM recently hosted an info session in partnership with Whatcom County Health and Community Services, Western Washington Univeristy, and the Whatcom Conservation District. You can still look at the recording and PowerPoint presentations below if you missed it.

Zoom Recording Link:

Access Passcode: 9eZT?^+H

Presentation Slides: 

Avoid the water and keep pets and livestock away if you see an algae bloom. You can report algal blooms to the Whatcom County Health and Community Services at (360) 778-6000 or Health Department staff will work with you to determine the next steps.


Have you ever seen a stormwater-related issue and didn’t know what to do about it? Whatcom County Public Works has a quick and easy way to report problems. This form is sent directly to Whatcom County staff who can help address the issues.  

The link to the form can be found at the top of the Public Works website

Use the “Flooding and Drainage Problems” category on this form to report signs of stormwater infrastructure issues such as: 

Use the “Water Quality - pollution and spills” category on this form to report pollution-related issues like: